But above all these, the question of the status of Jerusalem is perhaps the most complex and intractable. Placing this modern problem in a historical context can help us to understand why this city is at the heart of any talk of Middle East peace.
The establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of a united Jewish state is a great source of nationalistic pride for secular and religious Jews alike. David the King made it his seat of power and it remained as such for nearly 1,000 years. In addition to this national pride felt for this place, the sacred nature of Jerusalem binds the Jews to his place as well. Jerusalem was the site of the first temple built by Solomon. The remaining wall of the second, reconstructed temple still stands and is considered a sacred site for modern orthodox Jews. For reasons both nationalistic and religious, Jerusalem is a vital place for Jewish identity. This is clear from the sacred writing found in the Nev’im where it states, “Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, All you who love her! Join in her Jubilation, All you who mourned over her [for]…I will extend to her Prosperity like a stream, The wealth of nations like a wadi in flood.” (Isaiah 66:10,12). It may be this fervor for controlling Jerusalem that led the Israelis to declare Jerusalem as the capital of their new nation in 1949, just two years after agreeing that it should be a divided, internationally controlled heritage city. In 1980, Israel did away with any partitioning, declaring Jerusalem a unified city.
Christians look with a religious attachment to Jerusalem because so much of the life of Jesus Christ occurred there. Sacred sites such as the hill of Golgotha and the Garden of Gethsemane have long attracted pilgrims from all over the world. The attachment to Jerusalem took a decidedly political turn for Christians after its annexation by Muslims. In 1095, at the urging of Pope Urban II, Christians took up arms to ...
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